If you want to become visible in your work or community, you’ve probably been told you need to “put yourself out there”. When I did a survey last year, one of the most popular topics was also self-promotion. We recognize we need to be visible to our bosses, clients etc if we want to get ahead.
But how exactly do you put yourself out there?
Caroline Ceniza-Levine who writes success tips for career and business has some advice:
“Put” = what do you do to self-promote
Self-promotion can be a 1:1 conversation with your boss about your accomplishments to date and your near-term goals. Or it can be a social media campaign to develop an engaged audience and a powerful brand that attracts opportunities to you. Or it can be multiple things including both proactive, scheduled meetings with decision-makers like your boss and more passive marketing efforts.
The best self-promotion is something you will consistently do. Consistency is key because putting yourself out there isn’t a one-time effort but rather something you must regularly do. Opportunities abound at different times, and you want to stay front-of-mind on an ongoing basis. Therefore, where you have some flexibility in picking what you will do to promote (e.g., speaking, writing, social media, networking via trade associations or conferences), you want to pick something you are willing to do for the long-term. But there are some things you must do (e.g., making sure your boss and senior management know your value) so you can’t only focus on where you’re comfortable.
“Yourself” = what parts of yourself do you showcase
Even after you’ve decided that, yes, you will self-promote and, yes, you will embrace both active and passive mediums, you still need to decide what you are going to promote. Your accomplishments, skills and experience are obvious parts of your package that you want to showcase. But you also need to decide which specific accomplishments, skills and experience are most relevant to share.
If you are aiming for a leadership role, then the results you’ve achieved before as an individual contributor, while impressive, may be less relevant, than examples where you propose ideas or set strategy. If the company is moving in a direction that emphasizes a skill you have, but that is not a majority of your background, you may still want to emphasize it. You pick what your showcase based, not just on what is authentic to you, but also what resonates to your target audience.
“Out There” = who are you trying to attract
The best self-promotion resonates to your target audience, so you need to know whose attention you are seeking. If your goal is advancing in your current company, who are the decision-makers for promotions? If your goal is a career change, who makes the hiring decisions for the roles you want? One of my clients was a superstar in his large company but this didn’t help his dream of running a start-up in a related but distinct industry. The decision-makers who knew him were senior executives, and now his audience needed to include venture capitalists and investors funding the start-ups he prized.
Even if you want to stay where you are, your audience should always be broader than just your boss because opportunities exist both inside and outside of your current company. Competitor companies, potential clients and customers, executive recruiters, media, investors, even networking contacts who may refer you are all part of the audience “out there.” Putting yourself out there is not a broad, amorphous concept. To put yourself out there effectively means you practice self-promotion, you showcase your value, and you engage the audience who are making the decisions or know about the opportunities. You raise your odds of serendipitous outcomes, unexpected offers, and lucky breaks.